Rocket Man (song): Wikis

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"Rocket Man"
Single by Elton John
from the album Honky Château
B-side "Susie (Dramas)"
Released 17 April 1972 (1972-04-17)
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded January 1972
Genre Soft rock, pop
Length 4:38
Label MCA (US/Canada)
DJM (rest of the world)
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Tiny Dancer"
(1972)
"Rocket Man"
(1972)
"Honky Cat"
(1972)

"Rocket Man" is a song composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and originally performed by John. The song echoes the theme of David Bowie's 1969 song "Space Oddity" (both recordings were produced by Gus Dudgeon), but, according to an account in Elizabeth Rosenthal's book, "His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John," the song might never have been conceived had it not been for Taupin's sighting of either a shooting star or distant airplane. The account goes on to relate that the notion of astronauts no longer being perceived as heroes, but in fact as an "everyday occupation" led him to the song's opening lines, "She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour: 9 a.m. And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then."

The song first appeared on John's 1972 album Honky Château and became a hit single, rising to #2 in the UK and #6 in the U.S.

Contents

Song information

The lyrics in the song, written by John's longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, describe a Mars-bound astronaut's mixed feelings at leaving his family in order to do his job. Musically, the song is a highly arranged pop ballad anchored by John's piano, with atmospheric texture added by synthesizer and processed slide guitar.

"Rocket Man" was ranked #242 in the 2004 List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Another song called "Rocket Man" (and also based on Bradbury's short story) was released by the musical group Pearls Before Swine on their 1970 album The Use of Ashes. In an interview in Billboard magazine, Taupin acknowledged that a song of the same title, written by Tom Rapp, had been a direct inspiration for his own lyrics. Rosenthal's account indicates that Rapp's version was inspired by the writings of noted science-fiction author Ray Bradbury.

Elton John performed "Rocket Man" at the launch site of Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998.

In 2003, Universal Records released both a 12-inch vinyl (promotional only) & CD maxi-single with 3 new remixes of the song: A "Rocket Man (KDME Remix)" 4:20 B1 "Rocket Man 03" 4:01 B2 "Rocket Man (Royal Garden's Radio Mix)" 4:19

Of these, "Rocket Man 03" was also included on the Rocket/Island/Mercury EP "Remixed," along with four other remixes of Elton recordings.

Track listings

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

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7" vinyl

Side one
Track Title Length
1. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long Long Time)"   4:38
Side two
Track Title Length
1. "Tiny Dancer"   3:45
Side one
Track Title Length
1. "Rocket Man"   4:38
Side two
Track Title Length
1. "Suzie (Dramas)"   3:21

7" vinyl

Side one
Track Title Length
1. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long Long Time)"   4:41
Side two
Track Title Length
1. "Holiday Inn"   4:22
2. "Goodbye"   1:48

Chart performance

Chart (1972) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[1] 2
German Singles Chart[2] 18
Irish Singles Chart[3] 6
U.S. Billboard Pop Singles[4] 6
Chart (2008) Peak
position
Norwegian Singles Chart[5] 18

Kate Bush version

"Rocket Man"
Single by Kate Bush
from the album Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin
B-side "Candle in the Wind"
Released 1991
Format 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, CD, Cassette
Genre Soft rock, Space rock
Length 5:02
Label Mercury
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer Kate Bush
Kate Bush singles chronology
"Love and Anger"
(1990)
"Rocket Man"
(1991)
"Rubberband Girl"
(1993)

Kate Bush released a cover of "Rocket Man" in 1991 as part of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin tribute album Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin. Her reggae-inflected version of "Rocket Man" was a commercial success, reaching #12 on the UK singles chart and #2 in Australia (held off the top spot by Julian Lennon's "Saltwater"). In 2007, the track won The Observer readers' award for Greatest Cover of all time.[6] The B-side of the single was Bush's recording of another Elton John classic, "Candle in the Wind".

From the age of 11, Elton John was my biggest hero. I loved his music, had all his albums and I hoped one day I'd play the piano like him (I still do). When I asked to be involved in this project and was given the choice of a track it was like being asked ‘would you like to fulfil a dream? would you like to be Rocket Man?’... yes, I would.

—Kate Bush[7]

Track listings

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

7" vinyl

Side one
Track Title Length
1. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long Long Time)"   5:02
Side two
Track Title Length
1. "Candle in the Wind"   4:29

12" vinyl

Side one
Track Title Length
1. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long Long Time)"   5:02
Side two
Track Title Length
1. "Candle in the Wind"   4:29
2. "Candle in the Wind" (Instrumental Version)"   4:28

CD

Track Title Length
1. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long Long Time)"   5:02
2. "Candle in the Wind"   4:29
3. "Candle in the Wind" (Instrumental Version)"   4:28

Cassette

Side one
Track Title Length
1. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long Long Time)"   5:02
2. "Candle in the Wind"   4:29
Side two
Track Title Length
1. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long Long Time)"   5:02
2. "Candle in the Wind"   4:29

Personnel

All titles:[7]

Additional musicians on "Rocket Man":[7]

Chart performance

Chart (1991-1992) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[8] 12
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[9] 2
Dutch Mega Top 100[10] 27
Dutch Top 40[11] 22
French SNEP Singles Chart[12] 45
German Singles Chart[2] 36
Irish Singles Chart[3] 17
Swiss Singles Chart[13] 20
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[14] 11

David Fonseca version

"Rocket Man"
Single by David Fonseca
from the album Dreams in Colour
Released 2007
Format Digital download, Radio
Recorded 2007
Genre Soft rock
Length 4:38
Label Universal Records
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
David Fonseca singles chronology
"Superstars"
(2007)
"Rocket Man"
(2007)
"Kiss Me, Oh Kiss Me"
(2007)
Music video
"Rocket Man" at YouTube

The Portuguese singer David Fonseca released his version of the song as a single in Portugal reaching #12 in the Portuguese Top 20. The song, full title "Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)" also appears on David Fonseca's third album Dreams in Colour released in 2007 and on the Dreams in Colour: Tour Edition released in 2008. The music video was directed by David Fonseca himself.[15] Fonseca also regularly performs the single live in his concerts.[16]

Chart performance

Chart (2007) Peak
Position
Portuguese Singles Chart (Top 20) 12

Other cover versions

  • Alvin and the Chipmunks performed the song on their 1998 cover album, The A-Files: Alien Songs. In the song, near the end, Dave can be heard saying, "Alvin, N.A.S.A. is very upset. It seems you've stolen a rocket ship from them."
  • The Nixons performed the song regularly at concerts and included a studio-recorded version on their 1999 EP Scrapbook.
  • On the radio show This American Life, episode Classifieds (2002), a group of amateur musicians who had been found through their classified ads were brought together for one day to rehearse and record "Rocket Man" in a studio. The free MP3 is available online [1].
  • TheNoseOnYourFace.com has recently made a parody of the song titled "Wocket Man", as a parody of the North Korean nuclear missile crisis.

Use in other media

"Rocket Man" has frequently been used in film and television.

  • The song has been used in several television series, including episodes of the FX show Nip/Tuck, Life on Mars, episode 3-3 of Six Feet Under ("The Eye Inside"), episode 3-11 of Numb3rs ("Killer Chat"), and as the theme song for the 2005 BBC drama Rocket Man. In the "Pilot" episode of Showtime's Californication, a cover version performed by My Morning Jacket is used as the credits song. A remix of Elton John's original is featured in the season three finale. In the animated comedy "Family Guy" Stewie sings the song in an episode.
  • The Norwegian company Statoil also used the song for one of their commercials, part of the song being covered by Silje Gulbrandsen Hagen and the latter part sung by Elton John.[18]

References

  1. ^ "Chart Stats - Elton John - Rocket Man". http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=5837. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  2. ^ a b "charts-surfer.de search results". http://www.charts-surfer.de. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  3. ^ a b "irishcharts.ie search results". http://www.irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  4. ^ "allmusic (Elton John > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles)". http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&searchlink=ELTON%7CJOHN&sql=11:0ifqxqe5ldse~T51. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  5. ^ "norwegiancharts.com - Elton John - Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long Long Time)". http://norwegiancharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Elton+John&titel=Rocket+Man+(I+Think+It%27s+Going+To+Be+A+Long+Long+Time)&cat=s. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  6. ^ "The Observer - The top 50 greatest covers as voted by you". http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/ttremastered/story/0,,2166706,00.html. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  7. ^ a b c "back side of single sleeve". http://www.discogs.com/viewimages?release=797566. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  8. ^ "Chart Stats - Kate Bush - Rocket Man". http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=19388. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  9. ^ "australian-charts.com - Kate Bush - Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time)". http://australian-charts.com/showitem.asp?key=2364&cat=s. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  10. ^ "dutchcharts.nl - Kate Bush - Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time)". http://dutchcharts.nl/showitem.asp?key=2364&cat=s. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  11. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 3, 1992 (Dutch)". http://www.radio538.nl/web/show/id=44685/chartid=5252. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  12. ^ "lescharts.com - Kate Bush - Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time)". http://lescharts.com/showitem.asp?key=2364&cat=s. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  13. ^ "Kate Bush - Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time) - hitparade.ch". http://hitparade.ch/showitem.asp?key=2364&cat=s. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  14. ^ "allmusic (Kate Bush > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles)". http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&searchlink=KATE%7CBUSH&sql=11:jifpxqw5ldfe~T51. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  15. ^ David Fonseca music video of "Rocket Man"
  16. ^ David Fonseca live performance of "Rocket Man" at the Sudoeste 2008 festival
  17. ^ "Man of Enterprise - Times Online". http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article3233333.ece. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 
  18. ^ "Morgenutgaven - Morgendagens helter (Norwegian)". http://www.morgenutgaven.com/2008/10/morgendagens-helter/. Retrieved 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18). 

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